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A report from UNICEF was released today, entitled "Ending Child Marriage: Progress and Prospects," revealing that 700 million marriages worldwide involved girls under the age of 18, and of those, about 250 million of the girls were under 15. (Comparably, about 2% of boys were married under the age of 15, meaning that many these girls are married to considerably older men.) One-third of the married girls are from India, roughly half are from South Asia, and the bulk of the rest are in Africa. In proportion to their own populations, the ten most culpable countries are: Niger (77%) Bengladesh (74%) Chad (69%) Mali (61%) CAR (60%) India (58%) Guinea (58%) Ethiopia (58%) Burkhina Faso (52%) Nepal (52%) Contributing factors include culture, poverty, dowry laws, and lack of access to education or economic independence. The report studiously avoids explaining what the foundations of these "cultures" might be, since there's no reference to religious traditions, which are usually powerful indicators. The report summarises: Girls who marry are not only denied their childhood. They are often socially isolated -- cut off from family and friends and other sources of support -- with limited opportunities for education and employment. Households typically make decisions... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at feminine-genius
I had a nice chat on Relevant Radio this morning, concerning something women can keep in mind while spending time with family and friends. The interview is here [second half of hour]. Pertinent column was recently published here. When schedules change and families spend more time together, we are given an opportunity to have important conversations with those we love. Whether during slower days at home, get-togethers at vacation spots, or traveling to visit distant relations, discussions often turn to shared events of the past--which can be the occasion of laughter, bittersweet recollections, or dredging up old conflicts, with all their baggage. When families gather together and reminisce, one is often shocked by how others remember particular persons and events. We carry with us an eclectic composite of memories that have shaped us over the years, and that have colored our opinions about how the world works, but occasionally two persons will remember an occasion or encounter so differently that they have trouble recognizing the shared experience [continue reading]. Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2014 at feminine-genius
Dom Kirby, prior of Silverstream Priory in County Meath, Ireland has a wonderful meditation on the fall of Judas, which he explains was a gradual process. There were aids along the way that could have helped him with his frustrations and misunderstandings about Christ's mission. Surely he could have talked to Our Lord himself, or to Peter or John. But his opportunity to talk to Mary remains for all of us. Consider her availability then and now: Judas had another recourse, but he was too proud to make use of it. He could have gone to Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Even before the words of Our Lord to Saint John from the Cross, “Behold, thy mother” (Jn 19:27), Mary was a true mother to each of the Apostles. She knew them as any mother knows her children, and she loved them, even with their weaknesses and repeated failures to believe in her Son, to hope in Him, and to love Him. Any one of the twelve could have gone to Mary at any time for counsel, for comfort, for encouragement, and for a mother’s blessing. She loved each of them because her Son loved them, and chose them, and... Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2014 at feminine-genius
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Pope Benedict is 87 years old today. While his birthday this year does fall in Holy Week, in 1927 -- the year of his birth -- April 16th was actually Holy Saturday itself. As he writes in his autobiography, Milestones: The fact that my day of birth was the last day of Holy Week and the eve of Easter has always been noted in our family history. This was connected with the fact that I was baptized immediately on the morning of the day I was born with the water that had just been blessed. (At that time the solemn Easter Vigil was celebrated on the morning of Holy Saturday.) To be the first person baptized with the new water was seen as a significant act of Providence. I have always been filled with thanksgiving for having had my life immersed in this way in the Easter mystery, since this could only be a sign of blessing. To be sure, it was not Easter Sunday but Holy Saturday, but, the more I reflect on it, the more this seems to be fitting for the nature of our human life: we are still awaiting Easter; we are not yet standing in... Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2014 at feminine-genius
"We're all guilty" seems to the philosophy of Brandeis, the Boston University which has uninvited Ayaan Hirsi Ali from receiving an honourary doctorate at their commencement exercises this spring. The school noted: She is a compelling public figure and advocate for women’s rights, and we respect and appreciate her work to protect and defend the rights of women and girls throughout the world. That said, we cannot overlook certain of her past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University's core values. For all concerned, we regret that we were not aware of these statements earlier. Since they don't name the statements, we must conclude that they concern her dislike of Islam, for the following reasons: Ms Ali was raised as a Muslim; She was mutilated as a child according to the dictates of that religion; She was forcibly married to a man she didn't know (as I recall from her biography, she wasn't even at the wedding ceremony, because marriage-by-proxy was another acceptable custom; She was disillusioned by her faith, which considered women to be 2nd class persons; She spoke up about her concerns and has had death threats from Muslims ever since. None of these things are disputed; the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2014 at feminine-genius
When feminists consider the plight of women, they seem to fixate on tearing down male "privilege" (where they notice it) and providing contraceptives to coeds, rather than highlighting the real problems that women of the world face. Consider the battered in Bangledesh: About 87 percent of married women in Bangladesh have been victims of various forms of domestic violence in their lifetime, according to a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)-sponsored survey conducted by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, released this January. Of 12,600 women surveyed, 65 percent said they were physically tortured by their husbands, 36 percent were victims of sexual violence, 82 percent faced psychological abuse and 53 percent were victims of mental anguish. Only half the victims received treatment, while one third said they didn’t seek treatment for their injuries over fears of a backlash from their husbands. In Muslim-majority Bangladesh, the conservative patriarchal attitude of society is blamed for sexual violence within marriage. The use of the phrase "conservative patriarachal attitude" is interesting, because many go to its heart to name the culprit: men. Indeed, the attitudes of Bangladeshi men are deeply troubling: A WHO survey of 2,400 Bangladeshi men found that 89 percent of rural men... Continue reading
Posted Apr 5, 2014 at feminine-genius
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Since healthy societies are inclined to share love and life, it would only stand to reason that the easiest way to change their culture is to simply lie about your intentions. UNICEF has been accused of doing that in the past, and may have another lie in the making: The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops is demanding answers about a national tetanus vaccine campaign that they say is suspiciously like campaigns run in other countries where a birth control agent was covertly mixed in. Run by the World Health Organization and UNICEF, the Kenya campaign exclusively targets Kenyan women of childbearing age (14-49), and excludes boys and men and younger girls who are also at risk from tetanus infection. The bishops’ statement notes that in the Philippines, Nicaragua, and Mexico, the tetanus vaccine was “laced with Beta human chorionic gonadotropin (b-HCG) sub unit … to vaccinate women against future pregnancy.” When injected as a vaccine to a non-pregnant woman, this Beta HCG sub unit combined with tetanus toxoid develops antibodies against tetanus and HCG so that if a woman's egg becomes fertilized, her own natural HCG will be destroyed rendering her permanently infertile, the bishops explain. In this situation tetanus... Continue reading
Posted Apr 1, 2014 at feminine-genius
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David Limbaugh offers a wonderful summary of a talk given by two women who were imprisoned for their faith. I remember when they were first arrested, and wrote about it here. It seems that since their ordeal, they have written and spoken widely about how they were transformed by the suffering. The first week, they were horrified and prayed to be released. But soon, they came to see their presence in prison as an opportunity to witness to other prisoners, many of whom were prostitutes and addicts and “so hopeless and sad.” Maryam and Marziyeh prayed for them and saw God work in their lives as they cried and confessed their sins. It became “like a church for us,” said Marziyeh. Maryam said there was only one day out of the 259 during which she couldn’t feel the presence of God. “That was the worst experience I ever had in my life,” she said. “I was so sad. I didn’t know what to do.” They ministered to the other women, grew close to them, and took them to their hearts -- so much so that it became a new home for them. I find it moving that they were ambivalent... Continue reading
Posted Apr 1, 2014 at feminine-genius
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On Friday, 28 March, an Egyptian woman named Mary was viciously attacked simply for being Christian. She was dragged from the car that her persecutors had just crushed, then was kicked, beaten, had her hair ripped from her scalp, and then stabbed in the back. Their final savage acts after killing her were to slit her throat and strip her corpse naked before the crowd. Just last week. Unusual? Not according to locals, according to Raymond Ibrahim: Added the eyewitness: “Let me tell you, here in Ain Shams, we [Christians] know that every Friday is a day of death; that the day after Friday, Saturday, we’ll be carried to the morgue!” In fact, the overwhelming majority of attacks on Egypt’s Christians occur on Friday—the day when pious Muslims meet in mosque for prayers and to hear sermons. The significance of this fact can only be understood by analogy: what if Christians were especially violent to non-Christian minorities on Sunday—right after they got out of church? What would that say about what goes on in Christian churches? What does it say about what goes on in Muslim mosques? Prayers for her soul -- although this act of persecution has surely created... Continue reading
Posted Apr 1, 2014 at feminine-genius
In honour of the Annunciation, I am linking to this piece related to Mary's response to Gabriel, and what it meant: I confess I was always confused about why her question (“How can this be…?”) was considered appropriate and Zechariah’s (“How shall I know this…?”) was considered impertinent. The answer she received amplified our understanding of God’s plan; his answer was to be struck dumb. The way to look at this encounter, I’ve learned in the writings of Jacob of Serug, is not to compare Mary with her cousin, but to compare Mary with Eve. When Eve was approached by an angel, she asked no questions. Alas, she simply took him at face value and acted on his suggestion. Mary, who had to know about the previous ruinous encounter, exercised prudence before accepting the message. Not only did Mary’s prudence spare her from a possibly disastrous choice, but the answer she elicited from the angel has since been foundational to our faith. She pondered the message in her heart, kept the information in her mind over the coming decades, and meditated on how those events related to the promises of God. When the time was right, she shared what was... Continue reading
Posted Mar 25, 2014 at feminine-genius
I'll be I was on bright and early Wednesday morning (6am Central, 7am Eastern) talking about Lent with Sean Herriott. Here's the link for those who missed it. Continue reading
Posted Mar 25, 2014 at feminine-genius
Others have done well, taking on the sleazy culture that accomodates (and praises) part-time p*rn jobs to pay college bills, and Sister Theresa Noble has an interesting take: The media reaction to this young woman's activity has been at turns laudatory, critical, and patronizing. But what has been most interesting to me is the lack of interest or criticism for the young man who “outed” her. In fact, the male student’s full name was used in the earliest articles that can be found on the subject without the slightest concern for his well being or future ability to land a job, (something people are concerned about in respect to “Belle”). It seems American society has begun to accept porn watching as normal, and expected in a radical way. But most of us still draw the line at participating in porn, which very clearly reveals a hypocritical double standard. A double standard that does not only apply to young women. A young, male senior in high school was recently suspending from school for participating in an adult film in order to pay his mother’s bills. Major outlets covered the news. This incident, like Belle’s case, was discovered by fellow students. However,... Continue reading
Posted Mar 24, 2014 at feminine-genius
According to the new, trendy site, BanBossy, we oppress girls: When a little boy asserts himself, he's called a “leader.” Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded “bossy.” Words like bossy send a message: don't raise your hand or speak up. By middle school, girls are less interested in leading than boys—a trend that continues into adulthood. Together we can encourage girls to lead. Statistics at almost every graduate school in the country show more women than men in their programs, so I'm not sure how oppressed girls are in most schools. From my school days (yes, rather hazy) girls who were smart were impressive -- to both boys and girls. I can remember who they were, and they were quite popular. And then there were girls who were bossy. I can remember one girl in particular from my elementary school (she got to announce the arrival of each bus after school) and we didn't like her attitude. It had nothing to do with being a leader or speaking out, it had to do with manners and how she treated the other kids. I think most in our class had the sense to understand courtesy,... Continue reading
Posted Mar 13, 2014 at feminine-genius
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So thought Rachel Long, a young mother of three who didn't want more children. The Essure device could be inserted in a routine doctor visit, seemed simple, and was covered by insurance. Why not? Long’s problems began within weeks of insertion, necessitating five trips to the emergency room in just three days and costing her family thousands. “I felt like I was going to die, I felt like death,” Long said. “I had this deep, deep pain in my abdomen just two to three weeks after placement, anyone in their right mind would think this all started when this device was put into my body.” Eventually, she too had to have a full hysterectomy. At least one death has been reported in relation to the use of Essure, according to a report by ABC 2 in Baltimore. A woman went to the emergency room with abdominal pain sometime after having the device installed, and was found to have a raging infection in her reproductive tract. Her cervix, fallopian tubes and uterus had all become necrotic, dead tissue. The infection ultimately killed her. Over 5000 women have joined a Facebook group for those with unmanageable side effects, and their stories reveal... Continue reading
Posted Feb 11, 2014 at feminine-genius
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In a time when so many special needs babies are killed before birth (9 out of every 10 Down's Syndrome persons) this marvelous family should be commended for allowing the world to see what its missing by such an attitude. Alex Bilodeau as had a marvelous career thus far: Bilodeau is the son of Serge Bilodeau and Sylvie Michaud. His older brother, Frédéric, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at a young age and told that he would be unable to walk by the time he was 12. Frédéric is now age 28 and still has the ability to walk. He also has a younger sister, Béatrice. Bilodeau says that his heroes are his brother Frédéric and Canadian freestyle skier Jean-Luc Brassard. In his free time, he enjoys skiing and playing the piano. Bilodeau speaks fluent French and English. He notes firmly the impact his disabled brother has had in his life: “The motivation that he has, if he had had the chances like I did, he would have been four times Olympic champion. He’s a great inspiration, a great person and he’s going to be an inspiration for me after my career also,” the 26-year-old said. “Every little thing in... Continue reading
Posted Feb 11, 2014 at feminine-genius
The story of Saint Josephine Bakhita is a marvelous testament to the power of God's love, the power of forgiveness, and the power of love to overcome evil. She was kidnapped by slave traders when she was a small child, beaten and scarred, treated as a near-worthless object—but she persevered until she found a new way to live. This short segment from my book explains how forgiveness fits in: It was her fifth owner, the Italian consul at Karthoum, who first showed her kindness and ultimately brought her to Europe, where she discovered Christ. While taking care of the young daughter of a family there, she was introduced to the Canossan Sisters with whom she eventually found a home as a religious sister. Fifty years of quiet consecrated life allowed her to witness to others the deep abiding peace that faith and forgiveness can bring. Seeing God’s hand even in the difficult path of her life, she noted, “If I was to meet those slave raiders that abducted me and those who tortured me, I'd kneel down to them to kiss their hands, because, if it had not been for them, I would not have become a Christian and religious... Continue reading
Posted Feb 7, 2014 at feminine-genius
There is a meme used regularly in the HHS mandate debate concerning how many Catholic women adhere to their Church's teaching concerning contraceptives. The government's push to make Catholic institutions provide contraceptives in their health plans is based on this 2011 Guttmacher study, which claims that 98% of Catholic women contracept. It begins with this snarky and condescending tone: The debate over contraception has long been settled in real-life America. At some point in her life, virtually every woman in the United States uses at least one contraceptive method. Likewise, contraceptive services are recognized by government bodies, professional health care organizations and a wide range of other experts as a vital component of preventive and public health care. Even so—and despite the strong body of evidence demonstrating that contraceptive use and the prevention of unintended pregnancy improves the health and social and economic well-being of women and their families—contraception continues to be perceived as controversial among some policymakers and is opposed by the Catholic hierarchy and some other socially conservative organizations. So already we have labeled the pro-contraceptive side to be based on "real life" and health-enhancing, while suggesting that the social conservatives are warbling about a non-existent controversy from... Continue reading
Posted Feb 5, 2014 at feminine-genius
We know that abortion-rights activists who used "choice" as their lynchpin argument are strangely silent on the forced abortions that take place around the world, mostly in China. That is because below the gloss (meant for pedestrian consumption) is the real goal: social engineering. Just as "same-sex marriage" advocates don't really want marriage (read their literature, they want to destroy the very institution) pro-choice advocates want to interfere with the lifes of others and create their own utopia: America needs a baby code!! And I want to make a few suggestions that might be considered in the formulation of such a code: Article 1. The purpose of the American Baby Code shall be to provide for a better distribution of babies, to assist couples who wish to prevent overproduction of offspring and thus to reduce the burdens of charity and taxation for public relief, and to protect society against the propagation and increase of the unfit. Yes, most will recognise the words of Margaret Sanger, who was president of the National Committee on Federal Legislation for Birth Control. Of course since birth control doesn't always work, the coupling with abortion is a natural outcome. She elaborates: Article 2. Birth control... Continue reading
Posted Feb 4, 2014 at feminine-genius
This poor girl survived abuse that she couldn't categorise until later: In a candid interview, the daughter of a famed pornographer about the abuse she underwent as a child through early exposure to pornography. Liberty Bradford Mitchell was the daughter of Artie Mitchell, whose life ended when he was shot by his brother and business partner, Jim, in 1991. The brothers ran a strip club and a pornography studio in San Francisco throughout the girl’s life. She was present at the location many times, with her earliest memories of the place dating back to when she was four-years-old. “I saw [the customers] all sink into this disgusting depravity where every woman in the room becomes a target. It became this entitlement that the men had and it made me sick,” she said in an interview with Salon.com. “I experienced firsthand how confusing it can be to be exposed to sexual imagery as a child.” She explains that even as a child, she found the activity "distubing" and "weird," which attests to the natural law written on every human heart. I would imagine that she was named "Liberty" from her father's misunderstanding of the concept, perhaps thinking that freedom is the... Continue reading
Posted Feb 4, 2014 at feminine-genius
I must say that Nicholas Kristof at the New York Times has done excellent work in highlighting the horrors of modern slavery, for example this short piece: There is more, but for now -- pray, educate yourself, and consider making a donation: Coalition of Catholic Organisations Against Human Trafficking Catholic Relief Services Catholic Charities USA concerning trafficking in this country Continue reading
Posted Jan 28, 2014 at feminine-genius
Who would have guessed that someone with prudent sensibilities rose to a position where they might be so well applied: BBC children’s television should not have presenters that are “too sexy”, a editor has insisted, as she discloses she has asked presenters to remove their red lipstick before going on air. Melissa Hardinge, executive editor of CBBC Independents, said programme makers were increasingly concerned with the sexualisation of young girls, and worked carefully to prohibit it. I don't know the names or shows to which she refers later in the article, but I am grateful that she took the impressionable nature of children seriously--and stepped in to make a difference wherever possible. Bully for her! Continue reading
Posted Jan 28, 2014 at feminine-genius
National Review's Rich Lowry summarises the stupidity that passes for policy, and the absurd thought-processes that pass for thinking on the left. The hysteria began in response to Mike Huckabee's comment: “If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it.” Whatever one thinks of the content of that statement, it has to be noted that it is a complex sentence containing a sophisticated verb tense: namely, a subjunctive clause. Whatever one thinks of the war on women, it has to be noted that a more fundamental difficulty in the country seems to be a war on literacy. The response illustrates the standard ignorance: The comedienne Sarah Silverman professed herself freaked out that Republicans like Mike Huckabee want to control her private parts. If that’s what Huckabee was getting at, he had an odd way of conveying it — by saying the opposite. Prior to his offending sentence, Huckabee said, “Women I know are smart, educated, intelligent,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 28, 2014 at feminine-genius
Children are the enemy, don't you know? Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) recounts how women began to take jobs outside the home during World War 2, and have remained in the workplace since then: "And now, in very, very significant numbers, women are...a part of the workforce and have contributed greatly to allowing families to get ahead in the economy. What permits that is women being able to control when or whether they have children and how many. And it is so basic to our economic prosperity that women have that control." With this sort of reasoning, one can then make the claim that limiting access to birth control will result in an economic downturn, except that it doesn't. A few random thoughts: there are more women than men in the workplace in many fields (not to mention college) which means that the high unemployment rate puts a lot of fathers out of work (and yes, I know many women are single mothers); the economy has grown to accommodate two-income families, which put single-income families behind at the outset; the economy has grown to accommodate two-income families, which means that the price of goods trends higher, adding to inflation for all;... Continue reading
Posted Jan 28, 2014 at feminine-genius
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According to the most "retro" version of male-female complimentarity: The man gave names to all the tame animals, all the birds of the air, and all the wild animals; but none proved to be a helper suited to the man. So the LORD God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. The LORD God then built the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman. When he brought her to the man, he man said: “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of man this one has been taken.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body (Genesis 2:20-24). It only stands to reason that if Biblically-based morality is passé and public officials can cohabitate with impunity, then the wider culture will not grasp what good a wife is. France is facing the challenge of having chosen a President with four children, no wife, a series of long-term... Continue reading
Posted Jan 28, 2014 at feminine-genius
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For almost nine years, I've managed to stay pretty close to the theme of authentic femininity, but I've just found a woman who has taken her vocation in a unique direction. I don't even know what creed she espouses, but she does have an awesome mission! For those curious about details: While the rink isn't pebbled, it does have circular targets at each end and home-made stones.The rings were created by cutting up vinyl tablecloths, while the stones are made out of plastic containers (weighted with pea gravel) and kitchen cabinet handles. How's that for a little "feminine genius!" Continue reading
Posted Jan 28, 2014 at feminine-genius